Heritage architecture in Huddersfield

The Huddersfield Heritage Trail

Huddersfield has a rich history and an impressive townscape to show for it, with more than 1,600 listed buildings and some stunning architecture including the Lawrence Batley Theatre, the George Hotel, St Peter’s Church and the railway station which was described by John Betjeman as “the most splendid station facade in England.” This easy tour through the town centre tells the story of Huddersfield’s past and of its most interesting buildings.

St Georges Square Huddersfield
St Georges Square Huddersfield

1. St George’s Square

St George’s Square is the centrepiece of Huddersfield’s Victorian ‘new town’. Its focal point is the Railway Station, a grade 1 listed building completed in 1850. The impressive structure was once described by John Betjeman as “the most splendid station facade in England”. Opposite the station is the The George Hotel, the building in which Rugby League was founded in 1895. In the middle of the square stands the statue of Huddersfield-born Prime Minister Lord Harold Wilson, which was unveiled in 1999 by then PM Tony Blair and Lady Wilson.

2. Estate Buildings

Estate Buildings was the estate office of the Ramsden family, who owned the manor of Huddersfield from 1599 to 1920. Over those three centuries they had a profound influence on the town’s development.

Byram Arcade, shopping and cafes, Huddersfield
Byram Arcade, shopping and cafes, Huddersfield

3. Byram Arcade

Byram Arcade is a beautiful Victorian Arcade built in 1882 and designed by Huddersfield architect W.H. Crossland and commissioned by the Ramsden family. The development is names after the family’s coat of arms and their seat, which was near pontefract.
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4. Market Place

Huddersfield was granted the right to hold a market in 1671 and the market has been the centre of public life in Huddersfield ever since, with many public meetings and political protests taking place there. The arched entrance to Market Walk is known to many as ‘Wappy Nick’, although the reasons for this quirky name have been lost to time. On the same side of the Market Place is a glimpse into the early 19th century yards which once occupied much of the town centre.

5. Brick Buildings

This was built as a row of shops by the Ramsden estate in 1770, using bricks left over from the construction of Cloth Hall.

6. Former Temperance Hotel (M&S site)

Until 1909 this was the site of Thornton’s Temperance Hotel. For over half a century it had provided a forum for local radicals, philosophers, scientists and poets to discuss religious and political subjects, or modern theories. The present building dates from 1933.

Huddersfield Town Hall, events in Huddersfield
Huddersfield Town Hall, events in Huddersfield

7. The Town Hall

Huddersfield Town Hall is an impressive classical style municipal building designed by John Henry Abbey and completed in two stages between 1876 and 1881. The northern part included the district offices while the southern part housed the concert hall and the magistrates’ court. The spectacular concert hall holds up to 1200 people and hosts numerous events ranging from top quality comedians to live music.
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Huddersfield Library and Art Gallery
Huddersfield Library and Art Gallery

8. Library & Art Gallery

The town’s first purpose-built central library was designed by E H Ashburner and dates from 1937-40. The sculpted figures, by James Woodford RA, represent the youthful spirits of literature and art. The site was previously occupied by Ramsden St Congregationalist Chapel, one of several town centre chapels now demolished.

Queensgate Market, The Huddersfield Heritage Trail
Queensgate Market, The Huddersfield Heritage Trail

9. Queensgate Market

The town centre’s only post-war listed building, Queensgate Market is renowned for its striking 21 freestanding reinforced concrete roof shell umbrellas and for Fritz Steller’s ceramic sculptures on the Queensgate elevation.

10. The Riding School

Built in 1848, this building was originally a military riding school. The building has had many uses since then including an armoury, music hall and the Hippodrome cinema and bar.

Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield
Lawrence Batley Theatre Huddersfield

11. Lawrence Batley Theatre

Named after a local entrepreneur and philanthropist, the Lawrence Batley Theatre has been the home of live performance in Huddersfield since 1994. The building was originally the largest Wesleyan Chapel in the country with over 2000 seats. To the right of the theatre you can find examples of early 19th century commercial yards, which were renovated in connection with the Kingsgate shopping centre recently.
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12. Parish Church

A church has existed on this site since the 12th century, although the current St Peter’s Church is the third to have stood on the site. In the churchyard to the north is the prominent tomb of Joseph Kaye (1779-1858), the ‘builder of Huddersfield’. Ironically, the Parish Church rebuild was one job he did not get, and the wrongly-laid stone has led to continual problems of decay since the mid-19th century.

13. Beast Market

Beast Market was the town’s livestock market until the 1880s. A tall brick chimney on the site is what remains of an early 20th century jam factory. Just south of this is Venn Street, which is named after the Revd Henry Venn, vicar of Huddersfield from 1759-71, who was a well-known evangelical and ally of John Wesley.


14. Byram Street

On the west side of the Church, Byram Street, like Byram Arcade in Westgate refers to the Ramsden family seat near Pontefract. Kirkgate Buildings, opposite the church, was another Ramsden development built in 1880.

15. Old George Inn

On St Peter’s Street stands the facade of the 18th century George Inn, which originally stood in Market Place.  It was moved to St Peter’s Steet in 1852, when the old George was demolished to make way for John William St.

16. Mechanics’ Institution

Built in 1859- 61, this was the first purpose-built home for the Mechanics’ Institution, which was among the  strongest in the country at the time. The institute provided technical education for skilled workers and laid the foundations for the current University of Huddersfield. After laying derelict for many years, the building was repurposed into creative lofts in 2002.

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